Friday’s international friendlies:
Brazil vs Ghana, Argentina vs Honduras, Japan vs USA, Qatar vs Canada, Iran vs Uruguay, South Korea vs Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia vs Ecuador, Morocco vs Chile, Cameroon vs Uzbekistan, Egypt vs Niger, Paraguay vs UAE, Algeria vs Guinea, Mali vs Zambia, DR Congo vs Burkina Faso & Bahrain vs Cape Verde.
Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Korea Republic, Paraguay, Ecuador & Morocco to win + Japan vs USA to draw- 98/1!
Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Korea Republic, Paraguay, Ecuador & Morocco to win + Japan vs USA to draw- 98/1!
Brazil vs Ghana
Many are suggesting that Brazil go into this year’s World Cup as favourites, so will they underline their credentials in this friendly?
Tite’s team come into the tournament having lost just one of 30 competitive matches since crashing out in Russia, this the 2021 Copa América Final defeat to Argentina.
However, due to the Nations League, they’ve only played one match against European opposition during this four-year period.
This obviously won’t change this month either, but A Seleção need to be as well prepared as they can be, with their opening two matches against Serbia and Switzerland.
The five-times World Champions boast an array of attacking talent, and Tite’s biggest challenge is trying to fit them together in a cohesive unit.
Ghana meanwhile have now qualified for four of the last five World Cups, doing so by ousting fierce rivals Nigeria on away goals in the play-offs.
However, this was a massive surprise, due to the distinct lack of high-quality players in the Black Stars’ ranks.
So, since then, led by technical director Chris Hughton, they’ve recruited numerous players with Ghanian heritage to bolster their ranks.
Thus, Tariq Lamptey, Mohammed Salisu, Iñaki Williams and others could all make their international debuts in this one.
All of this creates an intriguing match-up at Stade Océane.
Argentina vs Honduras
Could 2022 be Argentina’s year? Could 2022 be Lionel Messi’s year?
Well, last summer, la Albiceleste ended their 28-year wait for silverware, defeating Brazil in the Copa América Final, at the Maracanã no less.
Then, back in June, Lionel Scaloni’s side demolished Italy 3-0 in the Finalissima at Wembley, another statement success.
So now, Argentina are unbeaten in 33 matches, including friendlies, looking to continue that momentum.
Despite the fact they reached the final in 2014, few could argue with the fact that Argentina haven’t looked this strong going into a World Cup for decades.
This week, Scaloni’s team are based in the United States and will take on two CONCACAF nations; they’ll face Jamaica on Tuesday in New Jersey.
Before then, it’s Honduras in Miami, with los Catrachos still wounded after a bruising qualification campaign.
La H failed to win any of their 14 World Cup qualifiers, losing ten of these matches, scoring just seven times.
This was a major surprise, given that Honduras qualified for the 2010 and 2014 editions, only missing Russia following defeat in the inter-confederation play-offs.
Diego Vásquez’s team did beat Curaçao and Canada in the Nations League in June, but this’ll be a serious step-up in difficulty level.
Argentina should cruise to victory at Hard Rock Stadium.
United States vs Japan
Two teams, with the World Cup firmly on their minds, meet at Merkur Spiel-Arena.
The United States lifted both the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup trophies last summer, so are now desperate to show what they can do on a global stage.
Since then, the U.S. have safely negotiated World Cup qualifying, so hopefully the ghost of Couva can finally be put to bed.
For Gregg Berhalter, as he’s said himself, this month’s friendlies are all about fine-turning ahead of the World Cup.
Some spots, namely goalkeeper, centre-back and centre-forward, are up for grabs, with this players’ last opportunity to stake a claim.
Namely Matt Turner and Aaron Long will look to ensure they’re in the starting XI against Wales on 21 November, while the likes of Malik Tillman and Ricardo Pepi are looking to book their seat on the plane.
As for Japan, given that they’ll take on Spain and Germany in Qatar, every second of preparation counts.
The Samurai Blue hammered both Ghana and Paraguay in June, also running Brazil close, losing that friendly 1-0.
Hajime Moriyasu has some excellent players at his disposal, just the draw means they’ll almost certainly bow out in the group phase.
So, this game is very tough to call, with both looking to prevail in Düsseldorf.
Qatar vs Canada
Only three nations competing at this World Cup weren’t in Russia, in Brazil or both.
Wales are one, while the other two will clash in this friendly in Vienna.
Canada will feature at just a second World Cup, the other 1986, having finished top of CONCACAF World cup qualifying.
The Canucks were unbeaten against Mexico and the U.S. during qualification, beating both at home and drawing both road meetings.
So, John Herdman’s team should not be written off, and don’t be too surprised if they stun Belgium, Croatia or Morocco this autumn.
Here, they’ll take on the hosts, with many expecting Qatar to be completely hopeless on home soil.
If you believe that, well don’t, because while Félix Sánchez Bas’ team aren’t going to win the tournament, they’re a capable outfit.
The Maroons are reigning Asian champions and reached the semi-finals of last year’s Gold Cup, narrowly dumped out by USA in Austin.
The Qatar Stars League has been put into hibernation, with the national side playing friendlies against European club sides all summer log
Akram Afif is their creator in chief and he, Hassan Al-Haydos and Almoez Ali form a very dangerous, potent attacking trio.
So, this friendly at Franz Horr Stadium is well matched, with both looking for victory.
IR Iran vs Uruguay
Another friendly between two World Cup participants comes from Sankt Pölten.
IR Iran are set to feature at their sixth World Cup, five of which have come since France ‘98, although they’ve never got out of their group before.
They do have some high-quality players, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi to name but a few, but off-field issues have hampered preparations.
First, back in June, friendlies in Canada and Uruguay did not go ahead due to geo-political relations.
So, Iran played just once during that four-game window, taking on a mix-and-match Algeria, actually losing 2-1.
Since then, Head Coach Dragan Skočić has been sacked, reappointed and then sacked again, following presidential elections and just general chaos.
Following unsuccessful stints with Colombia and Egypt, Carlos Queiroz is back; he led Iran at the last two World Cups.
Uruguay meanwhile have also changed coach this year.
With World Cup qualification going off the rails, legendary Head Coach Óscar Tabárez was sacked; he took over in 2006.
This decision paid off though because, under Diego Alonso, they won their final four qualifiers and snuck into third.
So, la Celeste have qualifed for their fourth World Cup in a row, famously winning this trophy in 1930 and 1950.
The South American side should be too strong at NV Arena.
Korea Republic vs Costa Rica
With the World Cup on the horizon, preparation is key for both of these two teams.
Korea Republic cruised through qualification, winning 12 of 18 matches, so maintained their record of having qualified for every World Cup since Spain ‘82.
Since then, Paulo Bento’s team have been hammered 5-1 in a friendly by Brazil; a serious reality check.
After that, the Taegeuk Warriors did beat Chile and Egypt, also drawing with Paraguay, but are possibly still trying to rebuild confidence.
So, a victory in Goyang would be very important for the Asian side.
Costa Rica meantime snapped up the last World Cup spot, beating New Zealand in June’s inter-confederation play-off.
Joel Campbell’s goal in the third minute in Al Rayyan proving decisive.
So, los Ticos have now qualified for five of the last six World Cups, only missing South Africa 2010 this century.
Luis Fernando Suárez’s team are a solid if limited outfit, making Korea Republic favourites to win this one at Goyang Stadium.
Saudi Arabia vs Ecuador
Ecuador will feature in the World Cup’s opening match so are determined to give a good account of themselves with the world watching.
Very few expected la Tricolor to make it, but they ended up fourth in CONMEBOL qualifying, above Peru, Chile and Colombia.
So, la Tri will make their fourth World Cup appearances, after 2002, 2006 and 2014.
During the summer’s friendlies, Gustavo Alfaro’s team beat Nigeria and Cape Verde 1-0, drawing 0-0 with Mexico in-between.
This suggests that one shouldn’t expect goals in this one, with the two teams fairly well matched.
Saudi Arabia meantime won 13 of their 18 World Cup qualifiers, losing just one, so have now qualified for six of the last eight editions.
The Greens reached the round of 16 at USA ‘94, but haven’t got out of their group since, a fact that’s unlikely to change.
Hervé Renard’s team lost both friendlies in June, against Venezuela and Colombia, so will be hoping for better here.
Will Ecuador come out on top at Estadio Nueva Condomina?
Morocco vs Chile
How will Morocco look ahead of their big World Cup opener?
Back in March, the Atlas Lions secured their World Cup ticket by beating DR Congo in the play-offs.
A 1-1 draw in Kinshasa was followed by a 4-1 victory in Casablanca as Morocco made it back-to-back qualifications.
Since then, divisive Head Coach Vahid Halilhodžić has been sacked, meaning this’ll be Walid Regragui’s first game in charge.
The same thing happened to Halilhodžić in 2010, he was sacked by Côte d’Ivoire on the eve of that World Cup, highlighting that he’s often not the most popular of leaders.
This change has seen Hakim Ziyech come out of international retirement, with the Chelsea winger set to make his return this week.
Opponents Chile won back-to-back Copa Américas in 2015 and 2016, but have failed to qualify for both World Cups since then.
La Roja won just five of 18 CONMEBOL qualifiers, ending up seventh in the table, five points below the dotted line.
Head Coach Eduardo Berizzo, who only took over in the summer, is still searching for his first win and first goal of his tenure.
Will either come in this friendly at RCDE Stadium?
Cameroon vs Uzbekistan
Cameroon’s World Cup preparations take them to the Far East Asia for two friendlies this month.
Back in March, les Lions Indomptables qualified for the World Cup against the odds, knocking out Algeria on away goals.
Karl Toko Ekambi’s finish, coming in the 124th minute no less, seeing them sneak through in Algiers.
So, in a couple of months time, Cameroon will feature at their ninth World Cup, returning after missing out on Russia.
This year, Olivier Ntcham, Bryan Mbeumo and others have committed their futures to Cameroon, with both set to make their international debuts here.
Opponents Uzbekistan have never qualified for a World Cup, actually eliminated in the second round of Asian qualification by Saudi Arabia.
In June though, the White Wolves maintained their record of having qualified for every Asia Cup they’ve ever entered, with wins over Sri Lanka, Maldives and Thailand.
Their superstar is Eldor Shomurodov; the Roma striker has scored 31 international goals from just 57 caps.
Nevertheless, Rigobert Song’s side should win this one quite comfortably at Goyang Stadium.
Egypt vs Niger
Safe to say, it’s been a heartbreaking 2022 for Egypt.
First, back in February, they were beaten in the Africa Cup of Nations Final, losing on penalties to Senegal.
Then, seven weeks later, déjà vu, as the Pharaohs World Cup dreams were shattered by, yes you guessed it, Senegal via a shootout.
Since then, Rui Vitória has been appointed Head Coach, with his aim to deliver AFCON glory in January 2024.
This month, Egypt play two home friendlies against lesser-African opponents as they seek to boost morale.
Niger meanwhile have only ever qualified for two AFCONs, these coming in 2012 and 2013.
In the summer, the Ménas began the new cycle with a pair of 1-1 draws, against Tanzania and Uganda, so are in with a fighting chance of making the next edition.
Here though, anything other than a comfortable Egypt win at Borg El Arab Stadium would be a big surprise.
Paraguay vs United Arab Emirates
The road to World Cup 2026 starts here for Paraguay.
Los Guaraníes have now failed to qualify for three successive World Cups for the first time since Spain ‘82, winning just three of 18 matches in this most-recent cycle.
From 2026 though, CONMEBOL could have seven teams qualify, up from five, which gives Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s team hope.
During the summer, la Albirroja held Korea Republic to a draw in Suwon and beat Mexico in Atlanta, so will be hoping the positive friendly results continue.
United Arab Emirates hopes of a first World Cup since 1990 were ended in the Asian play-offs by Australia back in June.
But, the U.A.E. are an emerging force, reaching the Asian Cup semi-finals on home soil back 2019.
So, Rodolfo Arruabarrena’s team have to be one of the dark horses when the next edition of that competition comes around next summer.
This friendly in Wiener Neustadt is tough to call.
Algeria vs Guinea
2022 has been simply a catastrophic year for Algeria.
First, the Desert Foxes, as defending champions, crashed out in the Africa Cup of Nations group stages with just one point to their name.
Then, in March, their World Cup dreams were shattered by Cameroon, crashing out on away goals, conceding in the 124th minute of the second leg.
Head Coach Djamel Belmadi has vowed to make amends for this double disappointment, targeting AFCON success in January 2024.
Guinea meantime have reached the round of 16 at the last two AFCONs, ousted by the Gambia earlier this year.
The National Elephants are in a qualifying group with Egypt, Malawi and Ethiopia for the next edition, so are fully expected to make it; the top two qualify.
This’ll be a stern test for Algeria at Oran Olympic Stadium, but they should have too much quality for their visitors.
Mali vs Zambia
Mali are a rising force in African football, so will their upward trajectory continue?
Back in March, the Eagles missed out on a maiden World Cup appearances, beaten 1-0 on aggregate in the play-offs by Tunisia.
In AFCON terms, Mali have qualified for the last eight editions, finishing third in 2012 and 2013, exiting in the round of 16 at each of the last two.
Éric Chelle’s team is jam-packed full of talent, so will that be on show in this friendly?
Zambia meantime, against all odds, won AFCON a decade ago, but have since failed to qualify for each of the last three editions.
All the Copper Bullets have to do to qualify for 2024 is finish above Comoros and Lesotho, which they should be able to achieve no problem.
Aljoša Asanović can call upon some top-level players, namely Enock Mwepu, Patson Daka and Fashion Sakala, but creating a cohesive side has been the issue.
Will there be a winner in this friendly at Martyrs of February Stadium
DR Congo vs Burkina Faso
DR Congo vs Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso to win 2-1 against DR Congo- 9/1!
At 9/1, a £10 bet would return £100!
DR Congo vs Burkina Faso
September 23, 2022
After impressing at the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, will Burkina Faso continue to impress?
Back in January, les Étalons beat Cape Verde, Gabon on penalties and Tunisia before falling to eventual winners Senegal in the semi-finals.
Despite also being AFCON runners-up in 2013 and semi-finalists in 2017, Burkina Faso have never come close to World Cup qualification.
This is something Hubert Velud’s team are desperate to change in 2026 and, with Africa have nine guaranteed places by then, that’s not an unrealistic dream.
The same can be said of DR Congo.
The Leopards reached the play-off round earlier this year, but were denied a place in Qatar by Morocco, losing 5-2 on aggregate.
Since then, Sébastien Desabre’s team have made a disastrous start to AFCON 2024 qualifying, beaten by Gabon at home and Sunan away.
Their fate is far from sealed but, having failed to qualify for the most recent AFCON, DR Congo will not want to fail again.
This friendly at Stade Prince Moulay Abdellah is tough to call.
Bahrain vs Cape Verde
Cape Verde were mightily impressive at the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, so will they continue to impress?
Back in January, the Blue Sharks reached the knockout stages for the first time since 2013, bowing out to Senegal in the round of 16.
Now, Bubista’s team are focussed on ensuring they don’t miss out on the next edition in January 2024.
In June, they made a mixed start to qualify, losing to Burkina Faso but then beating Togo.
With the former likely to top the group, Cape Verde just need to finish above Togo and minnows Eswatini to make it too.
In this friendly, they’re up against Asian opponents in Riffa.
Bahrain have next year’s Asia Cup on their minds, after coming through summer qualification, beating Bangladesh, Malaysia and Turkmenistan.
The Reds have now qualified for six successive Asia Cups, reaching the round of 16 last time round, beaten by Korea Republic.
This’ll be a good test for both, so will there be a winner at Bahrain National Stadium?